The Washington, D.C. region boasts some of the best golf experiences on the east coast.
The D.M.V is home to some best country clubs in the world including Congressional C.C., who was recently awarded eight PGA of America Championships.
But let’s remember there’s a strong presence of public courses as well, especially north of the beltway and west of Baltimore.
We’ve selected five categories for the best of public courses in that specific region and recently did a segment on DC Sports Live detailing these: 1) Best 18th hole, 2) Best View, 3) Best Value, 4) Best 19th Hole, and 5) Best Par 3.
Ranking Maryland's best public golf experiences
Best 18th Hole:
No. 18, Par 5, 547 yards. Whiskey Creek Golf Club, Ijamsville, Md.
As golfers, let’s face it, we’re greedy. We always want to end with a birdie. The 18th at Ernie Els and J. Michael Poellot-designed Whiskey Creek in Ijamsville, Md. gives that possibility.
There’s no other finish quite like it in the region. A picturesque tee shot with a view of the clubhouse is only slightly interrupted by a memorable obstacle sitting smack in the middle of the downhill par 5’s fairway: an old stone house.
It’s the remains of a Prohibition-era farm that used to distill whiskey and float the barrels down the creek to load in wagons (hence the name Whiskey Creek).
But enough of the history lesson, let’s remember that the house is part of the course. You read that right. You’re free to play it where the ball lies, even up against the stone wall should your drive land there. But you can also take an unplayable drop.
“You can opt for the safe (tee) shot and hit it to the right of the house which gives you a longer shot in or forces a layup,” Head Golf Professional Michael Jerolamon says. “You could also go left of the house which gives you a good opportunity to go for the green in two.”
What if you can’t make up your mind?
“I always jokingly tell guests to just aim at the house and swing as hard as you can so you miss it just right or left.”
The green is protected by a small pond with bunkers front, back, and left that come into play even more the further out you are on your approach.
“It’s a great finishing hole because there’s a huge risk/reward,” Jerolamon says.
More info: Whiskeycreekgolf.com
Best View: Honorable Mention
From the elevated clubhouse at P.B. Dye Golf Club, Ijamsville, Md.
"The view from the clubhouse overlooking pretty much the entire course is probably the best view, looking into Sugarloaf Mountain," says Head PGA Pro and General Manager Jon LeSage.
"You can see 16 holes, kind of like at Oakmont C.C., you can see the majority of the course."
The most scenic hole is the downhill par 3 11th with its island green and the surrounding hills behind it.
The course also boasts a nice practice facility with three simulators.
Upcoming events include the 10th Annual Turkey Day Shootout November 10, benefitting Toys for Tots, and the 1st Annual P.B. Dye Cup which launches on November 9, an 11 a.m. shotgun start.
More Info: pbdyegolf.com
From the clubhouse, looking in any direction. Musket Ridge Golf Club, Myersville, Md.
I don’t know about you, but my favorite part of every golf course is the views. Musket Ridge has no shortage of those, from the 200-foot elevation drop on the first to the vast panoramic views from the clubhouse looking over the foothills of the Catocin Mountains.
“They’re unquestioned,” Head Golf Professional Josh Ricketts says of the views. “It’s the finest piece of property in Frederick County for sure.”
“It’s got to be the best view and setting in most of Maryland public golf, if not the best.”
And it’s not just about the golf as there are numerous events and weddings held at the course’s Catoctin Hall, also perched near the clubhouse.
“But the setting is not only for the golfer, but for the general public who want a nice, relaxing spot to come out and take in the view,” Ricketts said.
A full-service bar and restaurant are available there as well with a strong food and libations selection.
Upcoming events include Annual Turkey Shoot November 18 and Toys for Tots on December 1.
More info: Musketridge.com
Best Value: Honorable Mention
Northwest Golf Course, Silver Spring, Md.
Hosted 2017 US Open Local Qualifying, a couple Nike Tour and Buy.com Tour events in previous years.
“It’s a great championship course that the public has access to,” General Manager Billy Cullum says.
Weekday rates: $37-$50 to ride, $22-$35 to walk
Weekend rates: $37-$85 to ride, $22-$60 to walk
More info: Mcggolf.com
Little Bennett Golf Course in Clarksburg, Md.
Big doglegs, Elevation drops, risk-reward, forced carries off tee … Little Bennett brings the heat.
And the view from the clubhouse deck overlooking the ninth and eighteenth greens is pretty sweet.
“We have a really good deal on weekdays that can’t really be beat anywhere else,” says General Manager Jeff Blake. “You get green free, cart, fee, range balls, lunch included, and free replays if it’s available, all included for $41.
So I think that right there is one of the better deals in the area if not the best deal for public golf courses up here.”
More info: Mcggolf.com
Compass Pointe Golf Course in Pasadena, Md.
Variety, nice views, good course conditions and layout for the price. It’s hard to beat Compass Pointe Golf Course. It’s got 36 holes and prices vary between $38-$50 for 18 on weekdays. $44-$68 for 18 on weekends.
One of the major factors for value here is the large grass driving range. You’d be surprised how many of the public courses in the region that don’t have this option.
It’s huge, especially for those of us who want as real a pre-round warmup as possible. The Two courses are the North (6,709 yards from the blue tees, 133 Slope) and West Course (6,590 from the blues, 128 Slope).
“The North course is the most popular side,” says General Manager Michael Senneca. “The first five holes are set up like a links-style golf course.”
“The Westside is more of a shot makers course. Most golfers have to hit less than a driver on many tees.”
The courses are run by Billy Casper Golf.
More info: Compasspointegolf.com
Best 19th Hole:
Whiskey Creek Golf Club, Ijamsville, Md.
The best hole in golf is always the 19th. Doesn’t everyone want the end of their personal emails to say “Sent from the 19th hole”? I know I do.
One of my favorite parts of the game is the people and the story-telling and camaraderie that comes during and after the round.
Whiskey Creek has a sweet spot for this. They’ve got a large deck that veers around three sides of the clubhouse to see the finishing holes on each side.
When you’re called Whisky Creek, you’d expect a generous selection of whiskey.
But this place takes it to another level with $13 Scotch Whiskeys, $12 Bourbon Whiskeys, and $9 Rye Whiskeys, and a full-service restaurant as well that feels like you’re in a ski lodge.
More info: Whiskeycreek.com
Best Par 3:
No. 17 188 yards (blue tee). Worthington Manor Golf Club, Urbana, Md.
A gorgeous, severely downhill par 3 set in the only densely wooded area on the course. 223 yards from the back tees, this hole is a brute. Most of the course is open so if it’s a windy day then you’ve got some math to do on this tee box.
Not only do you factor in the major elevation drop, but how much the tall trees are likely to keep the wind down.
A big bunker guards the left side and thick rough surrounds the rest.
"The green is very narrow, and when the pin’s in the back it’s a very difficult hole," Head Pro Ed Coyle says. "You don’t have much room for error."
"Short is your only real bailout. If it’s a calm day, it’s usually a club less down the hill."
It’s one of the prettiest settings in this region. And the course is phenomenal as well with a 19th century Manor turned-clubhouse and a rustic barn turned-cartbarn.
Worthington Manor is proud to have hosted U.S. Open qualifying for ten years and will be only the third public course in 98 years to host next summer’s Maryland Open.
More info: Worthingtonmanor.com